Jesus gave us the key to true purpose and harmony when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”1 What does that mean, in practical, everyday terms? One of the best explanations ever given is found in the Bible’s “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13. Times and terms may have changed, but the underlying principles are as true as ever. Here’s a paraphrased version of 1 Corinthians 13 for today.
Though I can speak five languages and talk intelligently on dozens of subjects, if I don’t have enough love to keep from gossiping or putting down others, I’m not just making so much useless noise, I’m being downright destructive.
And though I read the Bible regularly and even know parts of it by heart, and though I pray daily and have a lot of faith and other spiritual gifts, if I don’t have enough love to sometimes sacrifice some of my personal desires for others, then all of my spirituality amounts to nothing.
And though I work two jobs to provide for my family, and though I give to charity and volunteer for every community project that comes up, if I don’t show love and kindness to those I live and work with, all my hard work and self-sacrifice are worthless.
Love has a long, hard, frustrating day at the office, yet doesn’t get snappy and short-tempered. Love is happy for the other guy when he seems to get all the breaks. Love doesn’t have to drive the flashiest car, live in the biggest house, or have all the latest gadgets. Love doesn’t always have to be the boss or have the last word.
Love isn’t rude or crude, isn’t selfish, and doesn’t gripe or pressure others to get what it wants. Love is too busy being concerned about the needs of others to spend much time worrying about its own. Love doesn’t freak out when things don’t go its way. Love is quick to believe the best about people and slow to believe the rest.
Love hates to hear gossip and instead wants to talk about others’ good qualities and the good that they’ve done. It is tireless in the pursuit of truth and rejects falsehoods—even the ones that might be comfortable.
Love is always ready to give others the benefit of the doubt and looks for the best in them. Love wants to see others reach their full potential and does all it can to make that happen. Love never runs out of patience, even with those who are slow to “get with the program” or do their share. Love doesn’t keep looking at the clock when others are talking.
Love never fails. I fail others, and others can fail me. We all can be mistaken, misguided, or confused at times. Our words and deeds often fall short, and our bright ideas don’t always play out the way we want or expect them to.
We’re frail, fallible, and often foolish, and our understanding of the world we live in, not to mention the world to come, is only partial at best.
But when we see God, it will all make sense.
We’re immature children when it comes to practicing real love, but God can help us outgrow our childish ways.
At the moment, we’re pretty clueless when it comes to love and the other things that matter most in life, but when we’ll live in His kingdom we will know and understand God and His plan so much better.
Faith in God and hope based on the promises in His Word are important virtues to cultivate—but having love is even more important!
There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer, no disease that enough love will not heal. No door that enough love will not open, no gulf that enough love will not bridge. No wall that enough love will not throw down, no sin that enough love will not redeem. It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, how great the mistake. Sufficient love will dissolve it all. —Emmet Fox (1886–1951)
Meet the Man
If you haven’t yet met the Man of Love who has power to forgive the past, transform the present, brighten the future, and grant heavenly happiness forever, you can by sincerely praying the following prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank You for dying for me so I can know true love and have eternal life. Please forgive me for every wrong and unloving thing I have ever done. Please come into my heart, give me Your gift of eternal life, and help me to know Your love and peace. Thank You for hearing and answering this prayer and for Your promise to be with me always, from this moment on. Amen.
1. Matthew 22:39